“After a loved one passes, one of the biggest hurdles that families face, is passing wealth onto the next generation. Unfortunately, family dynamics can spur conflict and infighting among descendants.”
More than 75% of advisors polled by Key Private Bank said the most difficult part of estate planning is dealing with interfamily dynamics, according to a survey released in 2019.
Channel 10 Boston’s recent article entitled “Executor of a Family Estate? Here's How to Avoid Infighting Over Inherited Wealth” reports that the bank surveyed 130 of its client-facing advisors about their experience with individuals who are doing estate planning.
"The sensitivities of talking about estate planning often present emotional hurdles to putting a plan in place — especially when multiple marriages and blended families are involved," stated Karen Arth, Head of Trust with Key Private Bank, in the survey release.
Many family conflicts surrounding assets and estate planning are caused by miscommunication. The older generation should ask their children to join the conversation. Without this step, there can be a lack of clarity and transparency from generation to generation. The older generation believes that it did everything right in their estate planning, but often they don't explain their reasoning to their children and didn't give their children a chance to offer any input.
One way to prevent drama, as well as ways to remedy conflicts already started, is to begin the communication while everyone is alive.
When a person dies, they may leave an entire estate, with a lifetime of items to family. However, many of these items might not be listed in the will. As a result, the family must divide them up among themselves. Conflicts around sentimental value can arise. It is a good idea to seek help from a third party, so they can bring clarity and allow everyone to cool down. There are facilitators who can help. They are not just financial advisors and family dynamics experts but also professional mediators, who can help the family come to an agreement.
It is critical to have an open dialogue when it comes to dividing up assets. One way to avoid conflict is for the heirs to create wish lists of items they’d like, that can then be reviewed by the executor of the estate. Some people categorize items into groups of equal value, and others decide who gets what by rolling the dice. Whatever the method, open communication is vital to avoiding conflict.
Reference: Channel 10 Boston (Nov. 12, 2020) “Executor of a Family Estate? Here's How to Avoid Infighting Over Inherited Wealth”